Thursday, February 16, 2012

Birth story

Sorry for the delay, but I finally have some quiet time to sit down and write this story while I’m vacationing at my SIL’s with the kids (while hubby is away for business) and their teenage daughters are entertaining our toddler while the baby is asleep. (I hope it's coherent, I haven't reread it yet...)

After about three days of lots and lots of (sometimes painful) BH contractions and losing my mucous plug, things seemed to getting serious in the early morning of Monday, January 23rd. I first thought they were still BH contractions, as I mainly felt them in my lower abdomen, but they did come in more regular intervals and seemed to be getting stronger too. The previous days the contractions were mainly there when I was lying in bed and would subside when I would get up and/or take two Spasfon tablets. This time however they remained strong, even after changing position, taking Spasfon, and taking a warm bath. I had been up since 4 am and around 5:30 am we decided that this was the real thing, and moved into gear to get the toddler off to the neighbors and ourselves to the hospital about an hour later. We arrived at the hospital just before 7:30 am, just in time for a shift change. We were greeted by a midwife and student midwife who checked how far along I was: 3 cm dilated. Not that far, but we were allowed to stay and brought into a pre-L&D room, where I was put on monitoring for the first hour and then left to ourselves. After a total of two hours they did another cervical check: 5 cm dilated – off to the L&D room.

I had told the midwife that I wanted to see how things were progressing whether or not to ask for an epidural. With the birth of our first son I had taken an epidural after about 20 hrs of labor, when things were not progressing as they should and I was completely exhausted. The first dose had worn almost off by the time I was fully dilated, so I was able to feel everything (or so I thought, but more on that later…) when it was time to push, and I’d like to have that same experience this time.

I was very lucky that it wasn’t a busy day at all and the midwife came to check on me very regularly. The first part of labor I’d been sitting on a big exercise ball, with my hands on the bed and was handling the contractions pretty well up until about 6 cm when they changed in intensity. Just when I was thinking ‘next time the midwife comes in, I will probably ask for the epidural’, she came in, proposed a different position (on all fours on the bed, with a smaller exercise ball to lean on), which was wonderful, so we continued the natural way. I was still laboring at a pace of about 1 cm per hour, not very fast (and I was certainly not getting the 5-6 hr labor as everyone was saying is pretty common for a second baby), but steady. Every time things were getting tough the midwife proposed something else and helped me through it. As I was having quite some back contractions she had also put some acupuncture needles in my back (I’m not really sure if they did anything, and in the end she took them out because I was lying on my back and they were bothering me) and showed my husband the pressure points on my lower back, so he was helping a lot too.

When I was about 8-9 cm dilated the contractions became quite unbearable, but I was not going for the epidural anymore, I had such a good team around me, and was still feeling in pretty good shape, so we were set for an all-natural birth! However the end was really, really tough, I won’t lie. I felt a slight urge to push and told the midwife so. She told me I could push, but somehow I didn’t really dare to, so she wondered if I really felt the urge, that we could also wait a little, but I just couldn’t bear breathing the contractions away anymore, I just wanted this baby to come out! They told me to pull my legs towards me, but at that point I didn’t have much strength left and would have preferred if I could have put my feet up against something/someone. It took quite a few pushes before the head came out – the first few I didn’t have enough strength to make them last long enough. The midwife made me feel the top of the baby’s head as encouragement, but I was just one ball of pain. At one point (when the head was crowning) it hurt so much I was screaming like in the movies and asking the midwife what the hell she was doing when she replied: “I’m not doing anything, it’s the head that’s coming out”. They urged me to keep pushing to get the shoulders out as well, but I just needed to take a break and gather my strength to push again. Apparently the cord was around the baby’s neck – hubby told me later the midwife removed it in one swift motion. Encouraged by hubby and the two midwives I did manage that final push that got the shoulders and then the rest of the body out. The midwife handed me a bit of a limp and bluish baby that didn’t cry much, but once on my chest everything was perfect. It was Monday, January 23rd, 2:54 pm, our second son (3640 g and 53 cm) was safely in my arms after 11 hours of labor.

Despite the feeling that I didn't push as well as I could have, the midwife was very impressed with the way I did it and wanted to know where I'd taken my birthing preparation classes, because she said it didn't happen very often that a woman was able to push while breathing out (and not blocking my breath, like I'd done with baby #1, which was very effective, but as the preparation midwife had told me, especially for a second baby, not so good for your body - with a chance of pushing other organs too much down).

The placenta and membranes came out OK as well and after that they had to stitch two minor tears, which was a bit uncomfortable as I think she didn’t wait quite long enough for the local anesthetic to take effect.

After about two hours we were wheeled to our room in the maternity ward, where we stayed until Thursday morning (standard procedure in France). The first few nights were a bit rough, since he was constantly demanding to be fed and the colostrum didn’t seem to satisfy him, so we complemented two or three times with a little bit of formula. Once my milk came in this problem was over (not that he didn’t demand to be fed anymore) and in the first week he gained about 600 g and the second week another 500 g.

In the hospital
We’re adjusting pretty well to a life as a family of four. Our toddler is very sweet with the baby but also needs his fair share of attention, which he sometimes demands by throwing tantrums or being otherwise disobedient, which is all pretty normal I guess.



Fran said...

Oh my God! your children are fabulous! For some reason I think Oliver looked very similar to your little one! What a fantastic birth story and well done to you for going natural!

ps: the new word verification you have is almost impossible to get right!!

Summastarlet said...

Thanks for sharing your birth story with us! You did an amazing job!! He is beautiful and I love the pic of the boys sweet! xx